The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe – A one bowl chocolate cake recipe that is quick, easy, and delicious! Updated with gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free options!

The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe Ever. The Best Chocolate Cake recipe with decadent Chocolate Buttercream Frosting that will quickly become your favorite! // addapinch.com #chocolatecake

The best chocolate cake recipe. Ever? There are plenty of claims for the best chocolate cake recipe. I get that. But with one bite of this decadent, moist chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, every single person around the table commented that this was the best chocolate cake they’d ever tasted.

So as for my house, this chocolate cake recipe now holds that honor.

As the compliments continued, I didn’t begin to tell them how easy it was to make.

In all honesty, it is probably one of the easiest cakes I’ve made in a long time, really, but I just smiled and thanked them.

As we continued on gobbling up the cake, drinking our coffee or iced cold milk, the compliments just kept coming.

Then the requests for the recipe started.

That’s generally when you know that folks really like what you’ve made if they ask for the recipe and tell you for what event they plan to serve it.

As a cook, that really is one of the highest compliments you can receive – well, at least in my book.

The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe Ever

It was great to hear that they thought the cake was just as good after their last bite as they thought it was with their first.

Here’s another great thing about this recipe. The cake batter really can be made in a bowl without the use of a heavy duty mixer. Of course, that just makes things easier, but this is easily a recipe my Grandmother would have enjoyed making in her tiny kitchen with a whisk and a bowl. And I’m sure it would have turned out perfectly, too.

Slice of cake on a stack of white dessert plates

I’m not going to kid you, this makes a very rich, moist chocolate cake recipe. So if you are a faint of heart chocolate cake person, this is not the cake for you.

Based on the Old Fashioned Hershey’s recipe, I sort of went a bit heavy-handed with some changes testing cake after cake until I got it just the way I wanted it, but the end result was oh so worth it.

Fork holding a bite of cake with frosting on white dessert plates

The few crumbs left on plates gave that away.

One of the ingredients that really made this cake recipe come to life, in my opinion, was the addition of espresso powder in both the chocolate cake and in the chocolate frosting.

If you’ve not tried a bit of espresso when baking with chocolate, you really should.

The espresso works to elevate the flavors in much the same way as vanilla extract and I now think of it as an essential part of my spice cabinet.

Espresso powder is easy to find at the grocery store or even online if your grocer doesn’t stock it normally, but I use it fairly frequently and it can become a little pricey. I’ve started making my own homemade espresso powder and since I have I’m not looking back! It is so easy to make and have on hand!

Believe me when I say, it is very much worth the effort to have just for those times you are baking with chocolate!

Photograph of a cake with swirled buttercream frosting on white cake plate.

So my friends, if you have a chocolate cake lover in your midst, make them this cake. If they’ve had a bad day this is certainly something that will brighten it for them. If they’ve had a great day, then this chocolate cake is a great way to celebrate with them!

Let me just say again, this amped up classic chocolate cake + this Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe = the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had!

How to Make Ahead and Store the Homemade Chocolate Cake:

Both the cake and the chocolate frosting can be made ahead. Allow the cakes to cool completely, wrap them well in plastic wrap and place each layer into a gallon zip top freezer bag. Freeze the cake layers for up to one month.

To frost the cake, simply remove from the freezer and allow to thaw in the refrigerator with wrapping intact. Then, frost the cake once it has completely thawed.

Store the cake at room temperature on the counter. I like to store under a cake dome to keep the cake fresh.

Chocolate Cake Modifications You May Be Interested to Know About:

Note that I have updated the recipe to include some additional ingredients that I have tested through the years. I have found that this chocolate cake is even more versatile than I originally imagined! I’ve listed some of the modifications I’ve tested that I think may be of interest to you.

As a Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake Recipe:

To make the cake as a gluten-free chocolate cake recipe, I’ve successfully used an equal amount of gluten-free flour in place of the all-purpose flour listed in the recipe.

As a Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake Recipe:

To make the cake a dairy-free chocolate cake recipe, I’ve used almond milk as well as coconut milk in place of the dairy. While not dairy-free, I’ve also used buttermilk in place of the milk with great results.

As an Egg-Free Chocolate Cake Recipe:

To make the cake an egg-free chocolate cake recipe, I’ve used 2/3 cup of unsweetened applesauce in place of the 2 large eggs in the recipe. You will note that you may have to bake the cake just a few minutes more. Be sure to check with the skewer for doneness.

I’ve also used Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer with great success.

To Use Butter and Other Oils:

I’ve additionally tested the chocolate cake recipe with additional oils, as well as butter. I’ve tested using an equal amount of melted coconut oil to the vegetable oil called for in the recipe. I’ve also tested using the same volume of melted butter in place of the oils in the chocolate cake. While it does make the cake texture slightly different, it is still mighty delicious and worth trying if you’d prefer to use butter in place of oils in your chocolate cake.

Whew! See what I mean! This is the chocolate cake of everyone’s dreams, I think!

Best Chocolate Cake Ever // addapinch.com

The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe {Ever}

The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe – A one bowl chocolate cake recipe that is quick, easy, and delicious! Updated with gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free options!
4.98 from 2757 votes

Review Recipe

Print Recipe

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Servings: 24
Course Dessert
Calories: 124kcal
Cuisine American
Author: Robyn Stone | Add a Pinch

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder homemade or store-bought
  • 1 cup milk buttermilk, almond, or coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil canola oil, or melted coconut oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350º F. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring.

For the chocolate cake:

  • Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk through to combine or, using your paddle attachment, stir through flour mixture until combined well.
  • Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter until well combined.
  • Distribute cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center of the chocolate cake comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely.

Notes

The cake batter will be very thin after adding the boiling water. This is correct and results in the most delicious and moist chocolate cake I’ve ever tasted! xo
Freezer Friendly
Let the baked cake layers cool completely. Wrap them well with plastic wrap and then with foil. Put each layer into a freezer bag and freeze up to 2 months. To serve, thaw in the refrigerator overnight with wrapping intact. The next day, the layers are ready to fill and frost.
 
Nutritional information is for the cake only.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 124kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 178mg | Potassium: 114mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 229IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 34mg | Iron: 1mg
Have you made this recipe?Tag @addapinch on Instagram or hashtag it #addapinch

Do let me know how you like it.

Here are a few additional ways I like to make this cake!

Chocolate Cupcakes

If you are looking for cupcakes from this recipe, I’ve shared my recipe for the best chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting for ya. This recipe makes a perfect dozen so that you can scale the recipe to make as many chocolate cupcakes as you need! Talk about easy! 🙂

9×13 Chocolate Cake

I love this version! It is a delicious, scaled-down version that is just the thing for potlucks, reunions, tailgates, and travels perfectly! I’ve also scaled-down the frosting so that has the frosting to cake ratio that my family prefers. It is a definite winner!

Large Chocolate Sheet Cake

Scaled for a crowd, this recipe bakes beautifully in a rimmed baking sheet and is perfect for all sorts of get-togethers. Think of it as the 9×13’s big brother! 🙂 This recipe features Fudge Icing, but you can definitely substitute the icing for whatever you fancy!

And there you have it. There are so many ways to enjoy this delicious cake. Practically one for whatever need you might have. But, if I’ve missed one, be sure to let me know and I’ll work on it for you! 🙂

PS – Many of you have asked me if there is a way to make a Vanilla Cake Recipe that is just as delicious as this chocolate. Well friends, I’ve tested and tested and tested and now can proudly say – YES! It is definitely the best Vanilla Cake I’ve ever tasted, too! 🙂

Enjoy!
Robyn xo

The Best Chocolate Cake recipe with decadent Chocolate Frosting that will quickly become your favorite! // addapinch.com

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From the Add a Pinch recipe archives. Originally published 2012.

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Robyn Stone

..where I share sweet, savory and southern recipes, as well as home and garden tips and tidbits of travel.

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9601 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. My youngest daughter loves chocolate cake so I decided to make it for her birthday a few years ago. Needless to say I’ve been making it every year since. It truly is a moist and delicious cake and after learning how espresso powder add that little dash of magic we incorporate it into most of our chocolate recipes. Thanks so much Robyn.

  2. This recipe is literally The best. It’s my go to recipe and all my customers love it. It is a very soft textured cake but I’ve made all sort of cakes with it, from layered cakes to 3D cakes, worked amazingly 😍

    1. This cake was unbelievable. First time baking a cake and it turned out so amazing. I followed the recipe exactly how its shown for both the cake and buttercream frosting, hands down best chocolate cake I’ve ever had.

      1. My kids love chocolate cake & I decided to try this 3 years ago for my son’s birthday. The entire family loved it & I’ve made it every birthday since for both kids. Moist & delicious. 💗

  3. Hi, I would love to make this for my son’s birthday coming up next week. Would you happen to have or know any adjustments for high altitude baking? (6100-7000ft) This looks soooo good, I can’t wait to try it!

      1. Hi, can I used dutched cocoa for this cake?
        I’m from the UK and most supermarket cocoa is dutched- the one I’m using is Cadbury Bournville cocoa. Will this affect the recipe? As far as I know it’s not sweetened.

      2. Ishika, I have not used Dutch processed cocoa in this recipe but others have commented that they use it all the time with great results. Hope you enjoy the cake.

    1. I make this chocolate cake every year for my son’s birthday… it’s in the oven 😊 This year it will be plain buttercream though as it will be a Harry Potter Hedwig cake

      1. I will be making this cake for my husband’s birthday tomorrow but he is not very fond of sugar..so can I replace sugar with jaggery and all purpose flour with cassava or almond flour??

  4. What would be the best way to transport this cake somewhere without a car and how far in advance would you recommend making it? Thank you!

    1. Adiel, you should read the section in my post How to Make Ahead and Store the Homemade Chocolate Cake>. It give you instructions on how to make the cake as far in advance as a month, freeze the cake, and then how to thaw and frost the cake. The cake will last about 3 to 4 days at room temperature under a cake dome. I would place the cake in an airtight container to transport it.

  5. this is the best chocolate cake ever!! i substitute the oil with half butter half oil. i make this recipe for my birthday every year.

  6. I wanted an easy and moist chocolate cake that didn’t need complicated ingredients or a lot of prep work/clean up and this ticked ALL the boxes. Taste wise, it’s the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made! I didn’t have the patience or oven space to do 2 cakes, just threw it in a large rectangular pan and baked it in one go for about 50 minutes, and it came out perfect! Thank you so much, this is definitely going to be my go to chocolate cake recipe!

    1. Liz, you can use either one. I usually make this cake with whole milk but also make it sometimes with buttermilk. It tastes great with either one. Hope you enjoy the cake.

  7. Hi! Planning to give this recipe a try. I have only one 9″ baking tin. Would it accommodate all the batter in one go?

    1. No, there is too much batter for one 9-inch cake pan. You can make one layer at a time, make one layer and make the other as cupcakes, or halve the recipe and make one layer.

  8. OMG! This is the best chocolate cake ever!
    It’s absolutely fabulous! Unbelievable!
    I haven’t been able to stop eating it. My 97 year old Mom said so herself!
    Thanks for sharing this recipe ❤️

    1. Instant coffee does not produce the same results as the espresso. I tried it and the flavor isn’t as pronounced and to increase the coffee for the flavor gives a bitter flavor. The espresso powder does not leave a coffee flavor, it just enhances the chocolate flavor. You can omit the espresso or some people have used a cup of a really strong hot coffee instead of the espresso and boiling water. Hope you enjoy the cake, Eria.

  9. This cake is awesome! I made another chocolate cake the other week and this one is way better! It’s super moist and just hits all the right spots. This recipe is a keeper. I frosted this cake with whipped cream cheese frosting which was also delicious!!

      1. I made this cake with apple sauce and used cows milk. It turned out amazing. Thanks this is now my go to for chocolate cake!

  10. Oh forgot to mention, I did not have espresso powder, so instead of the 1 cup of boiling water I used 1 cup of strong/bold coffee.

  11. This was the most delicious chocolate cake my family and I have ever eaten. This was the first cake I’ve ever made from scratch and I will never make a box cake again! So easy and SOOO delicious! Thank you so much for the recipe!

  12. Robyn thank you so much! This recipe saved the day. We had made beautiful chocolate cake and it was awful dry and had holes in the layers. Even though it was frosted perfectly and looked bakery perfect it tasted awful. I just couldn’t go down like that.
    Your recipe was stupid easy and the cake was perfection. Looking and tasting!
    Made it in the morning so I used a cup of strong hot coffee instead of boiling water and omitted the espresso powder.
    I’ll be sharing your recipe with all my friends.
    Now we’re going To try your vanilla cake!!

    1. Instant coffee does not produce the same results as the espresso. I tried it and the flavor isn’t as pronounced and to increase the coffee for the flavor gives a bitter flavor. You can omit the espresso or some people have used a cup of a really strong hot coffee instead of the espresso and boiling water. Hope you enjoy the cake, Gee.

  13. Hi Robyn, I want to try this recipe tomorrow for my birthday. Was wondering if I need the frosting? I don’t really like frosting so wanted to know if I can omit it or absolutely need it for the recipe. Also can I make this without an electric mixer, i.e mixing manually? I see the instructions says to mix on ‘medium speed’, I’m assuming that’s an electric mixer (& I can get one at the store today if I need to) Thanks!

      1. Came back to let you know that the cake turned out great, wish I could share photos. I didn’t use espresso powder and baking soda (couldn’t find both in the store) but it still came out well. Will be trying out more recipes on here foh sho!

  14. My go-to chocolate cake/cupcake recipe! I just tried to use this version of the recipe (halfed) to bake one 6 inch cake and cupcakes with the remainder of the batter. I baked the cake at 350 for about 18 min and cupcakes at 325 (per the cupcake recipe) for about 15 minutes. The cupcakes turned out perfect but the cake sunk in the middle once it was cooling. Any idea why this may have happened? Should I have baked it at a different temp or time? Thanks for your help! Trying to perfect the small cake for my daughter’s 2nd birthday!

    1. Samantha, I haven’t made this cake in 6-inch layers but the 350º temperature should be correct. Was the cake completely done at 18 minutes? Most baking times I have found for 6-inch cakes is 20 to 35 minutes. I hope this helps so you can have the perfect small cake for your daughter. Hope she has a very happy birthday. xo

  15. Hi Robyn, I was wondering how this cake would be if I made it dairy-free? I am trying to find a good dairy-free recipe for my best friend’s birthday and she’s lactose intolerant. All I need to know is if the cake would work as dairy-free not the frosting. Thanks and I cannot wait to try this recipe!

    1. Yes, Leah, you can make this dairy-free. I have made it with almond milk and also with coconut milk. Both were delicious. Hope your friend has a great birthday and loves her cake. xo

  16. Such a delicious cake and the best chocolate icing with it was perfect! First time making a cake from scratch and not a box – so easy and worth it! Made a big cake and was able to share with neighbors, brightened everyone’s day!!! Thanks for sharing!

  17. I made this when I was just starting to learn how to bake, and this recipe never failed me, so easy to follow and my family loved it! Thank you for sharing!XO

    1. A family member of mine discovered this recipe a few years ago to make a birthday cake. After trying it we all immediately fell in love and we now only use this recipe for chocolate cake. The title is accurate- this is the best chocolate cake ever. I’ve had it probably at least ten times by now and it never fails to impress me.

  18. I have made so many chocolate cake recipes and this one is by far my favorite. I’ve made it twice now and everyone who has tried it has loved it. The texture, size, flavor and color are perfect. I make it as four 8″ layers and the volume of chocolate frosting (also linked on this page) is the right volume for that. I really recommend everyone make this! Note that we liked it much better than the also-famous Ina Garten “Beatty’s Chocolate Cake” 🙂

  19. Hi! Can I leave the espresso out? Making it for my daughters first birthday. Also, if I want to do a smash cake with it and put it into 3 3 inch pans would I just use half the batter for all 3 and the remaining I can put into a 9 inch pan? And how long would you cook the small 3 inch pans for?
    Thanks for any advice!

    1. Abby, I have never made this cake in 3-inch pans but I think half the recipe would be enough for only 2 3-inch pans and the other half enough for one 9-inch pan. You would need to add another 1/2 of this recipe for all 3 3-inch and the one 9-inch pans. The 3-inch layers would need to bake at 350º for about 18-20 minutes. Wishing your daughter a very happy 1st birthday.

  20. Hi I made this cake but haven’t tried it quite yet. I realized that the middle of the cake sunk. Do you know why or how to fix it? Thanks! Can’t wait to try it!

    1. There are several reasons that can cause a cake to sink in the middle: 1) opening the oven door before the cake has finished cooking, 2) taking the cake out of the oven before it is completely done in the middle, 3) over mixing the batter which incorporates too much air in the batter – this is easy to do with the high powered mixers today, 4) oven not heating to the set temperature or having uneven areas of temperature, 5) letting the batter sit too long before placing it in the oven, 6) all ingredients not warmed to room temperature, and 7) oven not preheated to correct temperature before cake pans placed inside. To fix your cake, you can level the cake layers but may have really thin layers or you can fill the sunken area with frosting.

  21. I baked this today and loved the way it turned out! Very moist and delicious 🙂 wondering if i’ll get the same outcome if I substitute the flour for almond flour instead. I’m worried it will change the texture/taste drastically

  22. I made this cake the other day for some friends. I got told it was the BEST cake they’ve ever had. I did however have to bake it for nearly double the time – but we think our oven might be out by about 20 degrees (checked after it took so long). I also used black cocoa instead – it is so delicious!! Going to try this as a vegan cake next month with the applesauce and almond milk alternatives!

  23. This cake is fantastic! My boyfriend is obsessed and told me to make it every week lol. Thanks for sharing the recipe!!

  24. Made this last week and everyone loved it! It was so moist with just the right amount of sweetness. This will be my go to chocolate cake recipe from now on! Now to try the vanilla cake recipe! Cheers from nyc!

  25. If I could give this cake 10 stars I would. I started using this recipe 2 years ago and it is, by far, the most moist and delicious chocolate cake I ever made. I do make it with Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten Free flour and it’s still amazing. My husband isn’t a chocolate cake fan, but he eats this cake, especially when I make mini cupcakes. I’ve done both the chocolate icing and I’ve even used the salted caramel buttercream recipe for between layers and it was delicious as well. I highly recommend this. It’s easy and it’s yummy! She wasn’t exaggerating when she called this “The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe”. I might add “EVER” to the end of that though. 🙂 So good!

  26. Absolutely DELICIOUS! Moist, decadent, and rich 😋 The perfect chocolate cake fix recipe. Was a little uncertain about the boiling water step and the consistency of the batter but definitely trust the process, it was right on target and the cake turns out beautifully!

  27. I probably make this cake at least twice a month, It’s amazing and there is nothing like homemade chocolate cake, it’s so easy to make! This is the only recipe I use for chocolate cake because it always comes out wonderful.

  28. Made it for my husbands birthday and it was delicious!!! I want to recommend to my GF friend and I saw the note about it being updated for GF but for some reason I can’t find the substitution. 😬

    1. The gluten-free information is written in my post under As a Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake Recipe:. You would just substitute the same amount of gluten-free flour as the all-purpose flour listed in the recipe, Diana. I have made this cake with Cup4Cup Gluten-Free Flour with great results. Hope your friend likes the cake, Diana.

  29. Made this for the first time for my Dad’s 79th B’day. It did not disappoint. Best moist and delicious cake ever!! Expresso powder is my new best friend for chocolate, wow!
    I’ve frosted a few cakes in my years. This is the only cake, ever, that didn’t give me fits with cake crumbs or pieces falling off while frosting the cake! I was astonished!
    Now to try your vanilla cake recipe.
    Bravo! Thank you!

  30. Looks soooo good! I will try to make this for my boyfriend’s birthday 🙂 just a quick question though, can I use cake flour instead of all purpose flour?

  31. I made this cake for my niece’s birthday, and I got soo many compliments! It was absolutely divine, and I was asked to share the recipe with many of the guests ☺️. Can’t wait to try out your other cakes!

  32. Absolutely lovely, delicious, moist and easy cake! However, the espresso somewhat ruined the flavor. It made the cake a tiny bit bitter or just did not seem to go with the chocolatey flavor. I do like the taste of coffee with chocolate and sometimes put instant coffee in my brownie batter so in the future I will use this recipe but without the espresso or maybe with the instant coffee.

  33. This IS the best chocolate cake ever! I have been making this cake for 3 years now and it gets better and better.
    Small changes i make – i love vanilla extract and the espresso powder so i add more of it.

    And a twist i made on this cake this past month was to use a homemade Oreo filling instead of the buttercream for IN between the cake layers.
    The Oreo filling adds another dimension to it.
    This recipe is a keeper !

  34. Hello, what type of sugar do you use? And can you make this cake without coffee in it (for a kids birthday)? Thanks:)

  35. This is the only chocolate cake recipe I make. It’s hands down absolutely amazing. Moist, chocolaty and just delicious. Thank you so much for sharing!!
    Btw, I’ve used almond milk, buttermilk and 2% milk – all have the same outcome, delicious 😋.

  36. Hey Robyn, I’ve made this recipe so many times and it always comes out so good but this time I made it in two 8 in pans and the cakes sunk in the middle, I remade it and it happened again. I know this is common with devils food like cakes but I was wondering if you know why this happened or what I can do so that it doesn’t happen, thank you!

    1. Jesus, I’m not sure what is happening with the cake. I have made this cake in both 9-inch and 8-inch pans successfully many times. Is it possible you are removing the cakes from the oven before they are completely done or opening the oven door before the cakes are done.This will cause the cakes to sink in the center. Since the 8-inch layers are thicker, it will take longer for the cakes to be completely done in the middle.

  37. Moist, rich, perfect! Best chocolate cake ever! The boiling water scared me when the batter was so wet but it baked beautifully. Made it for a family birthday and am making it again for another birthday this weekend. Everyone wanted a second helping!

  38. Hi Robyn, thanks so much for this delicious sounding recipe! This will be my first time making a cake from scratch, for my mom’s birthday on Friday. I see here someone else posted about using Dutch Cocoa. Unfortunately, that’s all that was available for purchase. I’ve read up on the difference between the two types of Cocoa, and found an article on LA times stating: “If a recipe calls for natural cocoa and baking soda and you want to use Dutch-process cocoa, substitute an equal amount of Dutch-process cocoa but replace the soda with twice the amount of baking powder.” So what would you recommend here, since your recipe calls for baking soda and baking powder? Thank you in advance!

    1. Shayna, I have not made this cake with Dutch processed cocoa so I’m sorry but I can’t tell you how to change the recipe. Others on here have commented that they use it all the time with success. My suggestion is to make a trial cake before the birthday if you are able to.

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